You've heard me take Silicon Image out to the woodshed more than once about their lack of conformity or upgradability and I am likely not done with them as they just launched HDMI 1.4a, but I am about to tee off on another topic - 3D glasses. I know 3D is the "It" technology right now and that the best HDTVs on store shelves that are being installed by today's top integrators are also 3D capable, but I am just not sure that consumers are willing to wear glasses to watch movies, sports and television programming. Without the glasses, a 3D set is rendered pretty useless unless you switch it over to 2D, which is a perfectly reasonable solution. Not enough people are talking about the fact that in order to make 3D HDTVs do their trendy magic - they also are the best 2D sets out there - especially the 3D plasmas that are just coming to market.
• Check out reviews from 3D HDTVs from the likes of Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, Vizio and many more.
For 3D to be a consumer electronics hit in the mainstream, Costco, Wal-Mart, Best Buy "Big Box" world - they need Joe American to buy in. Here's where I think Joe is getting lost. Not all 3D glasses work with all sets. Allow me to repeat myself. Some glasses work on some sets but not others. So in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, if a consumer wants to lap the Jones' and buy, say, a Panasonic 3D plasma for the theater room and a Samsung 3D set for the bedroom and the kids invite some of their friends over for yet another screening of Monsters Vs. Aliens - they can't use the glasses from upstairs on the set downstairs. Did I mention that each pair of 3D glasses are priced as much as a Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player in most stores?
Whoever is in charge of making these technologies uniform should be taken out in front of a 100,000 person CES trade-show crowd and be shot by a technology firing squad.
3D glasses are causing other headaches too - this time at the stores. Despite the fact that the glasses cost the better part of a pair of Oliver Peoples, they are build like crap and break. So a store spends the money to have a 3D HDTV demo going and by the end of the day all of the glasses are physically broken. With margins running thinner than 50 Cent these days on HDTVs (Fitty just lost 50 pounds BTW), how do you justify buying $150 a pop glasses when each set sold doesn't have much more profit in it than that. A recent tour of big box stores around movie-crazy Los Angeles show that the 3D demos are basically rendered useless because all of the glasses are broken within hours.
Beyond the glasses comes the next deadly issue for 3D, which is that there are barely any players that actually play 3D and for the ones that do - there is about one movie to play on them at this point. I don't know how many times you can watch Monsters vs. Aliens but unless you know the people who set up the CES trade show booths for Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba and/or Sony - you are not going to be rocking too much 3D for awhile outside of a few movies. Will there be more content? I am sure of it, especially because of DirecTV and ESPN's pending content coming later this summer. Is there enough content to justify a real-world investment in 3D right now. I'd say no.
Now, if you are buying an HDTV right now, the burning question that readers ask me is "Should I get a 3D set?" Depending on your budget - I am saying - yes. Right this second, the 3D sets are the best sets out there with the best blacks, fast refresh rates and all of the video goodies that make an HDTV worth $3,000. I just think that the 3D part of the set is going to take a solid six plus months to suss itself out so that the content is there and the value is worth it for mainstream consumers. Whether they will watch movies and sports with glasses on is yet to be determined; however everybody with working retinas will think that 3D HDTVs will look better in 2D than most of the other formerly high end flat HDTVs on the market today. Others say that you can buy the "everything but the 3D" version of most 3D HDTVs which is true, but for $700 do you really want to miss out on what could be the next technology? That has everything to do with how far you are trying to stretch your home theater budget.